Zorba Meze Grill, or as it is simply known locally, Zorba’s, has been delighting foodies in Tunbridge Wells with its take on traditional Turkish cuisine for more than half a decade.
Since it evolved from a café into the stylish eaterie it is today, it has gone on to enjoy continued popularity – constantly ranking among the top restaurants in all of Kent, according to Tripadvisor.
But a lot has happened since its owner Sedat expanded his small café into a 150-seat restaurant and introduced meze and grill-based cooking to the local restaurant scene.
A whole raft of places, offering all sorts of Mediterranean cuisines, have opened up over the years – some more successfully than others, but the increased competition has done little to dull the appetite at Zorba’s for providing top-quality food and excellent service.
Relaxed dining is an often-overused term, but Turkish cuisine cannot be enjoyed in anything other than a friendly, laid-back atmosphere.
The whole purpose of meze – the hot and cold selections of simple tapas like dips, salads and vegetarian dishes – is to share.
It is not only the range that Zorba Meze Grill has on offer, with all the favourites from hummus [£4.95] Babaganoush (smoked pureed aubergine)
[£4.95], and Taramasalata [£4.95], but also the quality.
The philosophy of using seasonal local ingredients wherever available certainly pays off when you sample the freshness of the Ezme salad [£4.95] with its just-picked parsley and crisp red onions.
Not to mention the traditional flat bread. If you have found fresher, tastier and better prepared Mediterranean bread in Kent, do write in because I would find it hard to believe.
But the quality of ingredients and skill of the kitchen staff at Zorba’s is never more apparent than with their grilled food.
The main event
Yes, there are plenty of other dishes on the mains menu at Zorba’s, ranging from Mussaka [£11.95] and Incek (braised lamb shank) [£13.95] but it the grill that generates all those aromas that have you salivating as soon as you step inside the restaurant.
A glance through to the open kitchen – perhaps more of a novelty a decade ago than it is today – and you will see masters of their craft.
The chefs at Zorba’s certainly know exactly how hot their coals are and how long every morsel needs to be cooked.
You won’t find any pink meat here, and even the fish, so easy to overcook above intense coals, does not stay on the grill a second longer than it has to.
The Adana (lamb skewers) [£13.95] and chicken shish [£13.95] are delicately seasoned and a cut above the usual kebabs offered by many other Turkish restaurants.
But if you really want to sample a good selection, then try the Surf n’ Turk [£29.95], a playful take on the more traditional steak and scampi, but with a selection of skewers (lamb and chicken), seasoned and gently grilled salmon, as well as grilled king prawns.
The food, location and modern, spacious restaurant are not the only things that warrant a five-star rating at Zorba Meze Grill, but the restaurant team seem to go above and beyond to ensure your stay is a relaxed and friendly as possible.
You will certainly feel welcome at Zorba’s and the smiling faces are almost as much a draw to return as the high-quality food and fabulous service.